For those who are unaware of the situation in Lethbridge (Regardless of what Management believes), let me outline it for you before I couch GM a solution in just 5 easy steps.
I swear, one day I am going to start off one of these blogs in a good mood because the team I am writing about isn't an absolute nightmare. If you are reading this wondering,
"Why are you writing about the Hurricanes, a junior league team and not the Oilers, to which your blog is dedicated to"?
my answer to you is simply that I will get to that mess later.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes were recently (albeit through the media) approached by Hurricanes Alumni Kris Versteeg who displayed interest in fixing the Lethbridge Hurricanes biggest issue and purchasing the team away from it's current publicly owned board of directors.
Almost immediately after the article was released, the board released their own statement stating that the team was not for-sale and didn't want to sell.
My sources however disagree, even my own father has said that Lethbridge is a city that requires a privately owned team and not one publicly owned. People can keep comparing Lethbridge and Moose Jaw with each other till they are blue in the face, but the fact is that these two very different cities sometimes require two very different solutions.
For five years now, the Lethbridge Hurricanes have failed to ice a team that can compete in the very competitive Central Division in the Western Hockey League, constantly blaming lack of support and poor turn-out for this, when infact, the real issue isn't the players that they are putting on the ice (some of which are highly touted) or the fans.
Every year I have watched these players work their butts off, constantly getting discouraged and blaming themselves for their inability to win games. Fans that I have sat with over the years, frustrated with the end result and ultimately leaving (we also did). Thousands of Dollars in profit running out the building in all-due haste because the management team that runs this club doesn't have a clue what to do, and never really has.
As Promised, here are my 5 easy steps.
Sell the Team to Kris Versteeg. As a highly respected Lethbridge Hurricanes Alumni, his dedication to this hockey club could bring in a fan base that the current board-of-directors couldn't even dream of. His knowledge of hockey alone, is considerably more than anyone on that board all-together. I for one know hundreds of people who would start pouring money into the team if this were to happen.
Stop Hiring relatives and friends of friends to do jobs that much more qualified people have applied to do. Having a team full of the same type of player is pretty much guaranteeing the end results that you have been getting, you need a mix of players (snipers, grinders, playmakers) and you would know that had you hired the right people.
Would you invest in a space launch mission in which they sent up high-school cheer-leaders to run the shuttle? -- no you would not.
Stop pointing fingers at the Players and the Fans for not being able to win games.
Low turn out among fans and quick burn-out among players is a direct result of constantly being managements scape-goat for a terrible year.
This team has been rebuilding for 5 years now (an equivalent of almost 2 full junior league rebuilds) and enough is enough! If you want to keep your under qualified management team and coaches, fine.
However in order to make money, you need to spend money. Purchasing a team bus is just one way to create an incentive for players to want to play here (something I know Versteeg would do).
Instead you have done nothing but demand more and more from your players and the Result? Just look up Sam McKechnie and Jamien Yakabowski (can you really blame them?).
Enough with the terrible Trades!
I honestly believe that this General Manager is drunk when he gets on the phone and makes trades.
If has been one bad one after another and just when you think it's over, he outdoes himself again!
Lethbridge Traded their first round pick (I believe it was 6th) for Brandon's first round pick (17th) and Goal-Tender Corbin Boes, citing how Lethbridge had lots of good, promising goalies in the system but they were part of the future and needed to make this trade to ensure their present.
...Sounds good right? guess again.
With their 17th overall selection they selected Stuart Skinner (A GOALIE).
If we already had lots of other future goal-tenders, why is the H. E. Double hockey sticks did they select a goalie for?
Thankfully Stuart Skinner is amazing, but the contradicting behavior of Mr. Robson (GM) is enough to pull my hair out.
Start involving your fans, don't ignore them.
Having fans come on to win prizes during intermissions isn't what I am talking about, that's just a slap in the face.
Having your players interact after the game with fans is just one way of making people feel included. A lot of Lethbridge youth look up to the Hurricanes players, and I for one would gladly bring my kids to the games for a chance that my kids will interact with their heroes.
A few years back, just after the Zach Boychuk Era, then General Manager Rich Preston made it more NHL like and restricted fans from behind the scenes areas. Areas that were open to players just prior to that time.
This isn't the NHL, and if you want your fans to support you, the players themselves have to become more involved in the community. Infact, even NHL teams are more community involved, I have been a perennial volunteer in the Lethbridge Area for many years and not one time have I ever come across a Lethbridge Hurricane player or staff member.
If you don't care about the community, how could you possibly expect the community to care about you.